Sweden on Wednesday extended its recommendation against all non-necessary travel abroad until July due to the novel coronavirus, but loosened its stance on travel within the country.
The extension to the guidelines, which will now remain in place until July 15 and include travel to all foreign countries, was announced as the country reported more than 3,400 dead from COVID-19.
Speaking at a news conference in Stockholm, Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said that domestic travel, limited to trips within one to two hours’ drive from people’s homes, could be undertaken on certain conditions.
“I want to emphasize that this doesn’t mean that everything is back to normal,” Lofven said.
“During these trips, common sense still applies, great caution, and even greater responsibility,” Lofven said.
Johan Carlson, Director General of the Public Health Agency of Sweden, specified that short trips could be made, providing they did not include visiting elderly relatives or other vulnerable groups and avoided social contact where possible.
Sweden has stopped short of introducing the restrictive lockdowns seen elsewhere in Europe and the travel restrictions are not legally binding.
The Scandinavian country has kept schools open for children under the age of 16, along with cafes, bars, restaurants and businesses, and urged people to respect social distancing guidelines.
The Swedish approach has come under criticism both at home and abroad, particularly as the number of deaths exceeded those in neighboring Nordic countries, which have all imposed more restrictive containment measures.
On Wednesday, the country’s health authorities reported a total of 27,909 confirmed cased of the new coronavirus and 3,460 associated deaths.